Why Delegating Isn’t Easy

In preparation for my maternity leave (in August 2017), I started the process of pulling out all the information that was stuck in my brain and documenting it, all the little tips and tricks I had or the rationale and context behind certain processes. There’s nothing like the deadline of being out for a few months to force you into action. Not only would this help the team to make decisions without my help, but also, my intention was that when I came back I would have now fully transitioned out of the day-to-day and be in the position to work on improving our operational processes to make us more efficient and growing the business.

I would be able to focus on my “winning” section (my passionate and proficient tasks) and the overall growth and strategy of The Portal.

But when I came back, that was far from what happened. I was in the same position I was in before I left. In fact, it was even more difficult because now I was balancing being a new mom and my time was no longer mine. I couldn’t just work longer hours or weekends.

Nothing changed because I didn’t take control. Nothing changed because I was too immersed in the day-to-day and I just kept making excuses for not transitioning tasks over. And Erin kept saying to me, okay, but when? When will you hand this over?

I failed to protect my time. I didn’t use my high energy time to work ON (not in) the business or on improving or building processes. I spent my time doing things that someone else could do. I spent my time outing fires. I let the day control me. And that’s what happens when we don’t delegate.

Delegation isn’t easy. In fact, it’s extremely hard. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it, right?

But when you’re successful at it, your world changes.

The first step is to figure out what’s holding us back from delegating. What are we afraid of? And then, what’s the worst that could happen and what’s the best that could happen?

So what keeps holding me back? 

My fear of overburdening my team and my fear of not being an awesome delegator. Yes, there goes my perfectionism kicking in again.

I hold on to tasks not because I think I’m the ONLY one that can do it, but because I’m afraid to overwhelm my team. I’m afraid to give them just one more thing to do, when their list is also ever growing.

I hold on to tasks because I haven’t committed the time to perfectly identify clear expectations and give a play-by-play way forward. I feel like I haven’t given them everything they need to just win and be efficient. But that’s the thing with trusting your team, you don’t need to give a play-by-play every time. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we want things done EXACTLY a certain way, but most of the time, we really just want it to be done well.

So what I’ve found to work well is taking just 10 minutes and articulating what you envision and what success looks like. Don’t worry about how to get there. Hopefully we’ve empowered our team to make great decisions.

Can I tell you that there have only ever been three outcomes every time I’ve taken a step back and just put in the 10 minutes to catch them up to speed or the 2 seconds to reassign the task:

  1. They execute on fire..boom!
  2. They need more clarity, which takes a few more minutes, but now they’ve learned something new that they can win at moving forward.
  3. Things don’t go exactly as I intended, but we figure out where I could’ve been clearer or why something was misinterpreted, and we both learn from it.

Here’s the thing, awesome delegation doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a skill we have to work on, a muscle we have to strengthen. Just like everything else, the more we do it and the more intentional we are about improving, the better we get at it.

Also…not everything can be delegated! But how do you know what can be?

Start with the tasks you do every day, your most routine processes, these are often the easiest tasks to delegate first. We created a simple Task Delegation Assessment to help you figure out if a task or process can be delegated. Click here to get access.

Also, feel free to send me an email to let me know how you’re delegating is going! Or if you just want to connect with someone that shares the same fears as you. Let’s be intentional together!